- Registration number
- Item name
- Indigenous name
- kafa gwaroa
- Associated cultural group
- Pacific > Solomon Islands > Malaita Province > Malaita Island
- H: 240 mm W: 110 mm L: D: 20 mm Circum:
Big patterned comb attributed as coming from Malaita, Solomon Islands [D Akin 2013, pers. comm., 5 Sept]. Larger ones like this from central and north Malaita were concave to fit around the head. These big combs were found as far south as Kwaio, further south they are small combs. Fern wood is naturally black but has blemishes that need to be scrapped off; most people pick the ones that need the least cleaning. Usually the older orchid combs were made with two pieces of fern wood for the crossbar; more recent combs have only one; this comb has a double crossbar. [Akin 2013].
The teeth of the combs are made from tree fern called ona (Cyathea lunulata). When heated over coals strips of ona are straightened and then shaved down to make into thin sticks. These are bound to an ona crossbar at the centre with fibre from a coconut husk. Orchid vine adi’ is prepared, split and thinned to be woven into the neck of the comb first. The orchid is yellow on one side and white on the other so the strips are twisted and secured in between the vine sticks as it is plaited so only the yellow side is visible. The contrasting red strips used in the midsection are probably dyed coconut fibre. Patterns were many and varied including the diamond representing a type of seed, the zigzag representing fruit bats, and stars [Burt, Akin & Kwa’ioloa 2009].
Catalogue Book 1 (CB1): 'Similar [Item 932,933] in type - fine coloured design in grass on handle.'
The Foundation Donation comprises the items from L. P. Winterbotham's personal collection, which were donated to the University of Queensland in 1948 and form the basis of the Anthropology Museum.